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Happy Opening Day of the 2014 MLB season!  I’ve always loved baseball.  I used to be pretty good at it and then decided one year to go out on top after my team won the championship.  Major mistake.  I really should have stuck with it.  I guess if we could all give our 14-year-old selves some advice, we would all do things a lot differently and be much better for it now.  Anyhow – cheers to another day at work that will likely see dramatically decreased productivity around America as people pay attention to baseball rather than conference calls.

Til Next Time,

Michael

I like Google Alerts.  I don’t use them that often, but the ones that I have spent some time crafting are rather useful.  I’m curious if they are starting to get a bit archaic though now, with more and more content aggregators with daily/weekly newsletters on the rise?

In case you haven’t heard of them, head to www.google.com/alerts and see for yourself how easy they are to set up.  I think the one benefit of these alerts versus traditional industry reports/newsletters is they allow an even deeper level of customization.  Let’s say I am interested in mergers and acquisitions within the European high technology and communication space.  I don’t know of any of my newsletters off hand that may hit that, but if I build the right query in Google Alerts, I’ll get an email almost immediately (or however infrequently I’d like) once a search result with that specific string pops up.

So which side are you on?  Managing your own content acquisition or letting someone (or something) else do it for you?  If you’ve got good newsletter subscriptions, what are they?

A couple of my favorite companies/sites with daily newsletter/event subscriptions across a few different industries: Tech Crunch (technology), IT Business Edge (IT/business), Hubspot (marketing), AdAge (advertising).

Til Next Time,

Michael

So I’m probably going to start running a “Quote of the Day” segment whenever I feel compelled (Weekly perhaps?  By the way – would that mean I should call it Quote of the Week?  This whole blogging thing is stressful; so many decisions…).  Might be something more suited for Twitter or another social outpost, but I’m paying the bills around here and I felt like it was fair to include :)

This one is on a colleague’s signature and I really like it.  I think of myself as a realist (i.e. the person that the optimist calls a pessimist and the person a pessimist wants to punch) so maybe that’s why it resonates with me.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  –William Arthur Ward

Til Next Time,

Michael

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Nobody writes letters anymore.  I get it; we live in a digital age.  E-mail is the norm.  It’s efficient.  It’s (largely) free.  The postal service is antiquated.  Stationary is a ripoff.  But let me present to you an argument for a handwritten note.

When you take the time to write a note by hand and have it delivered (or, better yet, deliver yourself), you:

  • Develop better handwriting skills which are highly useful for whiteboarding/sharing notes with colleagues
  • Instill a sense of trust and create a personal connection with others to whom you exchange notes
  • Build personal brand and establish a reputation as an upstanding person
  • Buck the trend of digitizing absolutely everything in your life
  • Differentiate yourself from “everyone else” who probably sent a quick email (or forgot to send anything at all)
  • Help people recall the “good ol days” (reminding them how far we’ve come, a warm-n-fuzzy for all)

Whether it’s a “thank you”, a “congrats”, or anything else, you are building your character and people will respect the hell out of you.

Til Next Time,

Michael

It seems every year there is a new latest-and-greatest storage utility that hits the market.  Whether it’s the next personal cloud, larger (but smaller) external storage devices, or online backup programs, there is quite an array of options when looking into personal storage space.

TechCrunch put out an interesting article Monday in light of the Google price drops.  It got me thinking – what should I be doing to make my own investment in long-term personal storage space?  I have kind of evaded the question for some time now, typically employing archaic storage devices when needed (rarely) to keep important files and documents.  I believe my external hard drive is ~250GB and about the size of a brick.  It really is time for an upgrade.  But where to go?

I think there are a lot of factors to consider:

  • Portability: do you want cloud so it’s anywhere/on-demand?  If not, do you need it to be portable so you can take it on the road?  This is the biggest issue with my current external; it is not nearly convenient for me to lug around from city to city (let alone meeting to meeting)
  • Price: do you want a one-time-charge?  Or are you comfortable with a recurring monthly price subscription?  Google’s prices on their new storage are incredibly tempting as they start at values which you really don’t even notice leaving your bank account.  But – for a few hundred dollars, you can set up your own cloud via your home internet.  Or (for even less) you can still get great deals on traditional external hard drives
  • Accessibility: cloud sounds great until that one day where you can’t access the cloud (due to server downtime issues, your own connectivity constraints, etc).  But, the reliability of your own personal hardware may also be an issue depending upon how you treat your device
  • Security: do you have any incredibly confidential materials?  If so you may want to steer towards more secure options, although most of the options mentioned have at least some form of reliable security in place
  • Safety: will the option you pick be safe?  Traditional external hard drives are only as safe as you make them.  Basically – you lose it, you’re toast.  And if all your eggs were in that basket?  Well…

I’m sure I’ve left several key factors out, but I’ll keep you posted on what I decide.  I know that Google option will be really tough to avoid though (I was in early on Amazon Cloud Drive and this seems to be just a much more polished version with a more forward-thinking and reliable company).  What about you?  Any preference or investment you’re making to set yourself up for near (and long) term storage success?

Til Next Time,

Michael

I’m a sucker for all things statistical and analysis based.  A total numbers junkie.  While imperfect, any attempt to add logic and stats to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is fascinating to me.

Hence, I had to share a couple links that give you the power to review the 68 team field and, in one case, pull the levers that would predict the full bracket for you based upon your own perceptions on what matters in March.

via FiveThirtyEight: FiveThirtyEight’s NCAA tournament forecasting model calculates the chance of each team reaching each round, taking into account a composite of power rankings, pre-season rankings, the team’s placement on the NCAA’s 68-team S-curve, player injuries and geography.

via Huffington Post: Statisticians, basketball experts and sports fans have tried for years to perfect the science of filling out a March Madness bracket. While there are many methods, it’s not always easy to decide which data to include and which to ignore. HuffPost’s Predict-o-Trondetermines each team’s chances of advancing through the 2014 Men’s NCAA basketball tournament with a probabilistic model based on the importance you give different attributes. Try it by moving the sliders, and be sure to share your bracket — you don’t want to miss out on bragging rights if your model ends up correctly predicting the tournament.

Let the madness begin!

P.S. I’ll be in Vegas for the Final Four.  You better believe I will be bringing all of these insights along with my bank account to the sports book…

Til Next Time,

Michael


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